The completely white background
Sometimes, all you want are super-clean pictures against a white background. To achieve this, you can use a softbox for your background, and that’s exactly what we’ve done here.
Nikon D800, 85mm f1.8 @f9, ISO 200, 1/125s
In this picture, the main source of light was a suspended and “armed” octabox. (You can read more about these in Chapter 2 of the Light series.) The slightly larger softbox softens the light, but also means that it does not reach that far down towards your model’s feet. However, that’s not a problem here.
The background is a softbox (150cm diameter) placed so that the visible, dark corners can be painted over easily in Photoshop.
When properly exposed, this setup creates a clean portrait in front of a completely white wall: and it always works. Shadows can’t be cast onto the softbox because it is self-luminous.
It’s simple and effective, even if your space is limited.
- 2 x Oktabox 150cm at 1000Ws Monoblock
The individual light sources
Here, the main light source has been suspended from the ceiling. It creates a soft light over the entire upper body without any visible loss of brightness.
The background softbox is set so that its edge is easy to paint over. Be careful setting the brightness: you need to avoid burning out your model’s hair. I always try to stay just under “completely white”.
Softbox as the background
The distance between the softbox background and the camera and model won’t have an impact on brightness here. However, it will have an influence on the “wrap”, or how the edges of the model are framed by the light.
Here you can see very nicely how the light “hugs” the model. However, the depth in the shot is lost; the natural brightness gradient to the rear is compensated for by the “wrap” of the light.
With a middling distance set between background and model, the wrap effect is not very pronounced but the brightness is (take care of the arms), and the image enjoys a natural depth.
If you were to increase the distance between the background softbox and the model even further, you would not gain very much – you just need more space, and you end up with more of the softbox visible in the frame. You could correct for that with a longer focal length, but then you’d need even more space…
For the pictures in the article we used the light simulation “Set.A.Light 3D”. You can download the lighting setup and try everything for yourself.
If you’ve never worked with Set.a.Light before, you should give it a try!
There is also a free demo version on the website, which you can use to open our set.